Title: Winter’s Tale
Director: Akiva Goldsman
Length: 118 minutes
Starring: Colin Ferrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly
My star rating: ★ ★
This is where the “and sometimes movies” parts come in. Movies! I do actually watch them from time to time, see? I swear!
A baby washes ashore in New York City after his Eastern European parents are denied entry due to poor health. He grows up to be Peter Lake (Ferrell), an orphan and a thief on the run from his former crime boss, the devilish and scarred Pearly Soames (Crowe). When he stumbles upon a white horse, he flees Pearly’s gang, but instead of helping him escape the city, the horse carries Peter to the home of Beverly Penn (Findlay). Beverly, just twenty-one, is dying of consumption. When she discovers that Peter is attempting to burgle her home, she does the logical thing: she sits him down and makes him tea.
Thus begins a stirring and timeless love story.
I’ve wanted to see Winter’s Tale since the first trailers came out, though the reason sort of escapes me at this point. (Okay, maybe the reason is that I really like Russell Crowe. And Jessica Brown Findlay, too.)
And…it was pretty disappointing.
The CGI wasn’t terrible. The cinematography was, at times, breathtaking. So was Jessica Brown Findlay. Does that girl have a face for the silver screen! And Russell Crowe entertained me. A lot. His Irish accent may not have been good, but when a movie is this lousy, all I really ask is to be entertained. (Are you not entertained?! Sorry. I couldn’t resist!) And the script had a few precious moments of humor.
Pearly: D’you spend time…wondering about the world? The workings of things?
Romeo [his henchman]: No, sir.
Pearly: Right, well…better not to start now.
Delivery is everything, of course, and well—Russell Crowe didn’t win an Oscar for nothing.
But that’s it. That’s all the praise I can muster.
Overall, the film is convoluted, confusing, and just…a hot mess. And Colin Ferrell’s hair is just…a mess. Ferrell himself is Irish, I get that, but I don’t get a) why an orphan raised in New York has an Irish accent, or b) why his “adopted father” Pearly—the demon in charge of NYC—does, either. I also fail to understand why Beverly, born in London but raised in the U.S., has an English accent while both her father (played by William Hurt) and little sister sound perfectly American.
But the accents are possibly the least-confusing thing in the entire movie.
More “but why” moments include: a flying horse that everyone calls the “white dog”; Will Smith as Lucifer; inexplicable immortality/time travel; really bad haircuts…and the list goes on.
Despite dragging on for two hours, the pacing is off: everything feels rushed. The grand, sweeping love story between Peter and Beverly is schmaltzy, sickly-sweet, and unbelievable. It often feels like a ripoff of Jack and Rose’s equally schmaltzy love story in Titanic. The screenwriting is sometimes lazy and often unclear, and the editing is choppy. The dichotomy between good and evil and the good-vs.-evil symbolism is ham-handed and clumsy throughout the film. The only characters who are around long enough to care about are Peter and Pearly, and frankly, I found myself rooting for Pearly. At least he amused me.
And if you’ll allow me to be base just for a minute, I will say that I might give this movie a few bonus points for showcasing Russell Crowe’s banging body, too. Don’t judge me. Look!
So alas, my first film review is hardly glowing. But it was sort of worth it for the pretty cinematography. And Colin Ferrell’s brogue. And Jessica Brown Findlay’s angelic face. And Russell Crowe, period.
But only sort of.